Avon Citizens for Avon Commons kickoff campaign on 4-13-99

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"AVON -- A Political Action Committee ... Avon Citizens for Avon Commons ... is led by Bob Barnhart ... As part of their campaign, residents behind the PAC gathered outside of Avon City Hall yesterday [4-13-99] along with Councilman Shaun Brady and Planning Commission member and former Mayor Thomas Wearsch.

Brady predicted Avon Commons will win at the June [ 1, 1999] election by a "large majority" and said it lost in November [1998] largely due to an anti-Avon Commons campaign waged by rival developers Richard Jacobs and Robert Stark. ...

Brady said he doesn't expect the same interference in this election because the jacobs/Stark group made a 'commitment' at a City Council meeting [3-15-99] to avoid commenting on the Avon Commons project ..."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE SUN, 4-15-99, By CHANEL CHAMBERS, Staff Writer

"Group campaigning for project

AVON -- Supporters of Avon Commons, confident their luck will improve this spring, are kicking off a campaign to convince voters to approve the rezoning initiative that will pave the way for the retail project.

"Our project and our intention is to adequately inform the Avon voters of what a 'yes' vote means, which is a high-quality shopping center with a lot of amenities," said Robert Barnhart, a member of Avon Citizens for Avon Commons, a group organized in an effort to pass the issue.

"A 'yes' vote ... allows Avon residents to control how Avon will be improved. We have the power to vote for an improved development that will include a family gazebo, walking trails, and nearly $2 million in traffic improvements."

The original issue, to rezone 85 acres of land near the intersection of Detroit and Center roads from light commercial to heavy commercial classification, failed in November by 47 votes. Voters will revisit the issue in a June 1 special election. ...

Currently, the land is zoned C-2, which allows buildings no larger than 20,000 square feet. Schneider's plan for Avon Commons includes at least three large "big box" stores of about 80,000 square feet, in addition to smaller stores. The total building area is about 600,000 square feet.

Several city officials appeared Tuesday [4-13-99] at City Hall to discuss their support for the project, including Councilman Shaun Brady and Planning Commission member Thomas Wearsch.

Brady said he hopes this election's campaign will clear up some of the confusion surrounding last November's. Many residents since have come forward, claiming they were mislead by slick advertising campaigns used by rival developers Richard Jacobs and Robert Stark to advance their own cause.

The Jacobs/Stark team formed a political action committee, Citizens for Good Planning, which contributed at least $50,000 to defeat Schneider's issue.

"It was a very confused message. In fact, there were a lot of lies that were being told," Brady said. "Mr. Jacobs and his group felt it necessary to throw thousands of dollars to contribute to that confusion. They tried to make themselves look good by making other people look bad."

Barnhart said Avon Commons will bring much-needed cash to the city's rapidly growing school district. The project should pour more than $1 million in tax revenues into school district coffers, in addition to $603,000 to the city and $303,000 for Lorain County.

"Every time you build a new home, you cause deficit spending, especially in your schools," Barnhart said. "In order to keep up with the spiraling costs of education, you need tax revenue without additional costs."

Wearsch said the job of Avon Citizens for Avon Commons should be easier this time around, since voters now understand that development will happen on the site regardless of how they vote. The only choice, according to supporters, is between a well-planned and landscaped project, or the "piecemeal" development that could happen under C-2 guidelines.

"This project is the highest quality project this city could possibly get," Wearsch said. "It's a no-brainer that we should have this in Avon ... Avon is a community of progress, and this is a project of progress. (Avon Commons) creates 1,000 good-paying jobs and provides retail that this city needs in a moderate-size development."

In response to residents' concerns about traffic, supporters said the Avon Commons proposal, which includes traffic improvements, is preferable to any other so far proposed. [Traffic will be the topic of a press conference at 10 am on Wednesday, 4-21-99, at the corner of SR-83 and Detroit Rd., hosted by Mike Schweikert of Traf Pro.]

"The building of this shopping center will actually improve the movement of traffic in the area of the shopping center," Barnhart said, adding that additional tax revenue generated by the stores could fund road improvements in other parts of the city.

"It is safe to say that nearly $2 million in traffic improvements with new computer synchronized traffic lights will vastly improve our quality of life by reducing traffic tension," Brady said.

Barnhart said the group has about 50 volunteers so far, and is available to conduct presentations with individuals and community groups about the project."

NEWS ARTICLE from THE PLAIN DEALER, 4-14-98, By Rich Exner

"AVON -- ... Four current and former city officials joined former Avon schools Superintendent Robert Barnhart yesterday [4-13-99] to show their support for Avon Commons. ...

"I really want Avon to get something good," said Bill Gladish, a former Planning Commission member ... Gladish said he was concerned that the collection of smaller buildings would not benefit Avon like Avon Commons could.

Joining Gladish and Barnhart yesterday were Planning Commission member Tom Wearsch, Councilman Shaun Brady, and Board of Zoning Appeals member Tim Nickum ..."


"Avon mall stores named by developer

AVON -- Developer Mitchell Schneider last night [4-14-99] rattled off a list of stores and restaurants he hopes to bring to his proposed Avon Commons shopping center, including Kohl's department store, Home Depot and Barnes & Noble Booksellers.

Seven planned restaurants include those such as Applebees, Longhorn Steakhouse, the Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesdays and Don Pablos.

In a presentation to the Avon Planning Commission, Schneider stressed that no tenants will commit to the Detroit Road shopping center before June 1, the date the retail complex is scheduled to go before voters for a required rezoning.

''We've not signed a lease with any of these parties,'' he said. ''Until we are able to tell these retailers that we are moving forward with a properly zoned piece of property, none of them are willing to sign on the dotted line.''

After making what he called ''modest, but I think important'' changes to his plans, Schneider said he now intends to build three superstores instead of four. The move gave him room to add three restaurants with south-facing patios that will be tucked along the recreational pathway.

The prospective tenants include: